Environmental Health

Port Health / Imported Food

The European Union (EU) exit transition period ended on 31 December 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement, which includes the Northern Ireland Protocol (the Protocol), sets out the legal framework for Northern Ireland’s exit from the EU and provides that Northern Ireland will continue to align with EU Regulations on goods and customs.

From 1 January 2021, we in conjunction with Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) now operate a new approved Point of Entry designated by the EU to carry out checks on specific categories of goods at the port of Larne.

Under the Protocol, Northern Ireland is required to maintain regulatory alignment with the EU on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

SPS goods must only enter Northern Ireland through approved Points of Entry (POEs), each of which has been designated by the EU to carry out checks on specific categories of goods.

Our duties include:

Food law requires that all food on sale is safe to eat.

Certain products when brought into Northern Ireland (NI) from Great Britain (GB) or another country outside the EU are subject to special controls at the port.

These rules apply whether it is for your own use, to sell or use within your own food business.

These rules are in place to protect human and animal health and consumer choice.

If consignments are not imported in compliance with these rules they could be re exported or destroyed at the importers cost.

Initially these rules were applied to food and feed, however, they now cover materials that come into contact with food such as plastic kitchenware.

DAERA undertake checks and controls on Products of animal origin.

As part of these checks they are dealing with checks on retail goods entering into Northern Ireland. Importing Food Products of Origin and information on Retail goods.

High Risk Food Not of Animal Origin     Conditions of Import from China and Hong Kong 

Organic Import     Fish and Fishery Products for Human Consumption 

Importing Food Products of Origin

High Risk Food Not of Animal Origin (HRFNAO)

Products may be considered high risk if they contain, for example, contaminants such as mycotoxinspesticidessalmonella.

When imported or moved into NI from outside the EU, including from GB, food defined as high risk will be subject to either temporary increased controls or emergency measures. 

Commission Implementing Regulations (EU) 2019/1793 (as amended) lists and applies increased and emergency controls to High Risk Products of non-animal origin.

In addition to the foods listed in (EU) 2019/1793, the EU have specific import conditions for food:

If you are moving HRFNAO into NI from outside the EU, it is your responsibility to think about the foods you trade, where they originate from and whether they are imported into GB prior to onward movement to NI (either as part of the consignment originally imported into GB or the full consignment).

You can check your traded goods against those foods for which further restrictions apply, as set out on the restrictions page, on the Food Standards Agency website.

You can get more information from the Point of Entry (POE) you will be bringing your food consignment into, or the district council in the area your business is located.

Products controlled by these regulations must enter the EU through a Border Control Post (BCP).

Importers and food business operators must pre-notify us at least one working day before the physical arrival of a consignment by completing Part 1 of the Common Health Entry Document (CHED-D) on TRACES-NT the EU’s online platform for importing HRFNAO.

Guidance on registering on TRACES-NT and completing the CHED’s can be found on the TRACES website at: TRACES-NT webhelp

Plastic Kitchenware: Conditions of Import from China and Hong Kong

Controls are in place for imports of polyamide and melamine plastic kitchenware that originated in or are consigned from China and Hong Kong under Regulation (EC) 284/2011.

Europe wide controls are in place as harmful chemicals from plastics have been found to migrate into food.

The European Commission believes that there are not adequate controls over manufacturing in place.

As a result, consignments are analysed before they are shipped, and the results submitted to Port Health with a Declaration to confirm that harmful chemicals are below permitted limits.

For more information on the legislation visit the Food Standards Agency website.

Products which are subject to this regulation, can only enter the EU through a BCP, the approved POEs in NI are Belfast Port, Larne Port and Warrenpoint Port. 

Importers and food business operators must pre-notify the appropriate district council at least two working days before the physical arrival of a consignment by submitting a Common Health Entry Document (CHED-D) on Traces NT. 

This should be accompanied by a Plastic Declaration Document (PDD), a laboratory report of analysis and commercial documents for each consignment.

This is also necessary if these goods are imported into Great Britain (GB) and then moved into NI. 

You should select commodity code 3924100011 when completing the CHED-D. 

An example copy of the PDD and guidance document can be viewed here:

Once your CHED-D has been submitted, it will receive a documentary check, as is necessary on 100% of consignments. 

The legislation also requires that 10% of consignments be subject to a combined identity and physical check.

This involves a sampling process, during which the consignment will be held under customs control, pending laboratory result. 

Organic Import

For an imported product to be sold as organic, it must conform to equivalent standards as EU produced goods, these products are Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007.

All organic products imported into the EU must have the appropriate electronic certificate of inspection (e-COI).

This e-COI has to be endorsed at the point of entry into the EU by the Port Health Authority.

Importers will need to contact one of the EU approved control bodies in order to get the e-COI certified. List of UK control bodies.

Importers and food business operators must pre-notify us at least one working day (24 hrs) before the physical arrival of a consignment by completing the e-COI on TRACES-NT.

Fish and Fishery Products for Human Consumption (POAO)

There are strict rules for the commercial import of fishery products from 3rd countries outside the European Union (including GB), bivalve molluscs and products that contain them.

Larne Point of Entry (POE) is an approved POE for the importation of fishery products. Importers must:

  • Come from an approved non-EU country
  • Be accompanied by appropriate Export Health Certification
  • Come from an EU-approved fishery product establishment, premises or approved bivalve mollusc production areas
  • Enter the EU through an officially designated Point of Entry (POE) where veterinary/hygiene checks are carried out by an Official Fish Inspector
  • All consignments must be pre-notified to the POE prior to arrival

To move fish into NI you will need to register on TRACES NT.

You need to pre-notify the arrival of fishery products or bivalve molluscs into NI using a Common Health Entry Document (CHED-P) on Traces NT.

This must be done at least 24 hours prior to arrival.

Some Point of Entries (POEs) will allow four hours pre-notification due to the perishability of fishery products or live bivalve molluscs (LBMs).

You need to provide an export health certificate (EHC), except for direct landings of fresh fish in NI ports from UK-flagged fishing vessels.

Fishery products and bivalve molluscs have different EHCs.

You may need to provide a catch certificate however these are not required for LBMs.

For more information please visit the DAERA website.

Importing Food Products of Origin (POAO)

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP), Northern Ireland will remain in the same Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) zone as the EU.

Therefore any consignments of animal products entering NI from GB after 1 January 2021 will be treated as entering the EU SPS zone from a Third Country.

DAERA applies national and EU legislation to control imports of products of animal origin.

Regulation (EU) 2019/2007 lists the products that are subject to veterinary checks and includes products such as:

  • red meat, farmed game and poultry
  • fish and shellfish
  • dairy products
  • honey
  • animal by-products such as pet food dog chews, dried meal worms for wild bird feed, feathers, wool
  • hay and straw

From the 1 January 2021, you must follow the steps below to pre-notify the arrival of a consignment of SPS goods at a Northern Ireland Point of Entry.

Animals and animal products from countries outside the EU must be imported via an approved Border Control Posts (BCPs), where they undergo veterinary checks before they can enter the EU.

For further information visit:

DAERA's guidance on importing animals and animal products

DAERA's guidance on retail goods

If you have any queries email porthealth@midandeastantrim.gov.uk or call us on T: 028 2826 2374.